Sports talk with Jon Hamm

US-OSCARS-VANITY FAIR PARTY-ARRIVAL
Cardinals fan Jon Hamm will host the ESPYS.

Jon Hamm isn’t taking “Mad Men” questions. He’s only talking sports, be it his hosting gig at this year’s ESPYS — ESPN’s equivalent of the Oscars or Grammys — or his starring role in “Million Dollar Arm,” in which he plays real-life sports agent J.B. Bernstein as he looks for new baseball pitchers among India’s cricket champs. He’s about to wrap the latter, after which he’ll fly back to America to take the stage among athletes.

“It’s not going to be ‘The Jon Hamm Show,’ nor should it be,” he says, adding that he won’t be the only one trying to crack wise. “It’s been my experience through various dealings with ESPN through the years and stuff I’ve done with ‘Saturday Night Live’ that athletes are desperate to crack eachother up and make fools of themselves.”

Hamm is a giant sports fan; he’s most rooting for his team, The Cardinals, though his schedule doesn’t always permit him to watch them, even when they’re in the World Series. But his respect extends to everyone. “There used to be a saying — or maybe I made it up — that all athletes want to be movie stars, and all movie stars want to be rock stars, and all rock stars want to be God,” Hamm says. “I think it’s basically that no matter how good you are at what you do, whenever you look at some one else who’s excellent at what they do, you can’t help but be jealous. I’m definitely like that when I see athletes.”

He was an athlete himself, at least in high school. “Most of what it was was I hated working out. And I still do. Sports provided a way to actually get some exercise and work out while not doing something dumb and repetitive like lifting weights.”

As for “Million Dollar Arm,” it’s his chance to star in a genre he adores: The sports movie. It’s one where he doesn’t mind the cliches. “I think the formula is the good thing about sports films, honestly,” he argues. “What makes a great sports film is sticking to it — that I knew what’s coming and it got me again. With the story told in “Miracle” — I watched that game live! I knew how it was going to end! You know how it’s going to end but it still gets you. That’s the best part.”

When asked what famous athlete he’d like to play, he replies with Gordie Howe. “I can’t skate a lick. But old time hockey I find absolutely fascinating. He played hockey for four decades. Some of those may have been minor league, and maybe with his kids or grandkids. That would be pretty cool. Or I could just play Paul Newman’s character in ‘Slap Shot.’”

Inevitably his personal life comes up, and how with George Clooney once again single, some eyes are on men who haven’t married. Hamm remains unwed, though he’s been with his girlfriend, the actress and filmmaker Jennifer Westfeldt, since 1997. “I just can’t manage any sort of fascination with anyone’s personal life. It’s silly, Jen and I have been together for many years. It’s constantly mind-boggling to me that people care,” he says, with a laugh.

 

Jon Hamm’s favorite sports movies:

“The Natural”
“Bull Durham”
“Miracle”
“North Dalls Forty”
“Caddyshack”
“Hoosiers”

Maura Mandt, ESPYS executive producer, on Hamm:
Jon was a die hard sports fan growing up in Missouri — a three-sport athlete in high school. There are two main things we want: Talent — and Jon has that, and he’s proven he has comic chops by doing “SNL” —but also he’s an authentic sports fan. You can’t put someone up on this night in this room who does not have knowledge of sports this year.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Egypt calls for Gaza ceasefire as fighting rages

Egypt called on Israel and the Palestinians on Saturday to halt fire and resume peace talks, but violence continued unabated.

National

SpaceX rocket terminated in Texas test flight

A Space Exploration Technologies’ Falcon 9 rocket suffered an anomaly shortly after launch on a test flight, triggering its automatic termination system.

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…